tokaj recommendations?
September 27, 2006 10:39 PM   Subscribe

Tokaj/Tokaji. I'm buying a gift for some friends who are Tokaj afficionados, and would love some recommendations for excellent Tokaj wines (ideally Hungarian or Czech rather than French/Italian Tokay or Tocai wines). They prefer the sweeter wines (5+ puttonyos) and it would be swell if I could find a 2001 vintage, as it's a 5th anniversary gift.
posted by judith to Food & Drink (9 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Well, as a Tokay afficiando, I just had to chime inn on this one - thanks for the kick to get my self registered at mefi :-)
First of all I'll have to give a small correction - Tokaji - as the wine is spelled, is only produced in Hungary, in the region Tokaj-Hegyalja. There is some confusion as there is a grape called Tokaj Pinot Gris, but that isn't used in Tokaji wines.

2001 seems like it was a good year, so you should be able to find a good one from that year, according to decanter.
Decanter also has a nice search for winners in their World Wine Awards, from that it seems like 2000 was a better year, but I'm sure you can find something nice from 2001 as well.

In general - I don't have any concrete recomendations, but I think you'd be well served finding something from some of the renovned producers, like Chateau Dereszla, Oremus, Chateau Megyer, Chateau Pajzos, Royal Tokay, Disznókö etc.
posted by arnves at 12:49 AM on September 28, 2006

Kind of sort of seconding arnves, I work at a Hungarian restaurant and we serve both Oremus and Disznókö tokaji wines from various years. All that I've tried taste pretty damn good to me, but I'm not a wine expert, so take that with a grain of salt. I guess I'm just trying to say that either of those would be good options :)
posted by evilbeck at 3:01 AM on September 28, 2006

As arnves says, Tokaji only comes from Hungary. Oremus and Disznókö are the main brands I've seen both in Budapest and in the states.

2001 is too young to drink, good Tokaji ages at least 20 years. Not saying it's a bad gift, just to consider. 5 or 6 puttonyos wines are both excellent quality. For something truly special consider also Eszencia, which is entirely unblended.

What's happened to Tokaji production since the end of the Soviet era? I imagine the regulations changed, but for the better or worse?
posted by Nelson at 3:59 AM on September 28, 2006

After the soviet era a lot of privatization happened, with a lot of foreing companies (though often renovend wine producers) bought wineries and land. There was a tightening in land ownership rules , but many wineries are still primarily controlled by foreing wine producers.
What happened to wine production during the soviet era is rather unclear, but there was definitely a trend towards quantity over quality. Afterwards, there has been a call from many for Tokaji to go back to its roots - but what these roots are is very unclear. But the trend is definitely to produce Tokaji's of excellent quality. The Aszu's are definitely the mainstay of fine Tokay wine - but some new producers are finding the regulations overly stringent, and are producing some very interesting new wines that go under other labels than Tokaji Aszu.
I'm certainly looking for a Eszcencia myself, as a cornerstone of my collection, but still many say Eszencia is not really a wine - definitely not a winemakers wine - because it's more or less a natural product with little or no influence from the winemaker. This of course does not preclude it from being the elixir of the gods.
posted by arnves at 4:19 AM on September 28, 2006

Response by poster: Thanks for the great advice, all of you.

I'd sensed 2001 might be too young for drinking, but would love to get them a bottle to hold for their 20th anniversary or something. Again, if anyone has a sense of what might be an excellent choice for this, I'd love your help making that decision. I'd like to stay under $50, if possible.
posted by judith at 5:32 AM on September 28, 2006

Further research shows that 2001 wasn't up to the standards of 1999 and 2000 which were top notch - but not the worst of years. A list I found rated it a 2-star vintage (on a scale of 3)
There's a list of wines tested at some for me unknown wine competition in Tokay - the only one i found there is a 5 putt. from Pannon Tokaj Kft.
A more personal recommendation would be Oremus Tokaji Aszú 6 Outtonyos 1999 - which is extremely good but not overexpensive (here in Norway at least...)
posted by arnves at 6:23 AM on September 28, 2006

Just a sidenote for posterity - real Tokaj also comes from Slovakia, though Slovak part of the Tokaj region is much smaller, only about tenth of the Hungarian one. Quality is the same. Pity I'm not aware of any exports.

About vintages - it seems future is bright, at least according to what Tokaj winemakers tell. Only some years are good for producing aszú/výber (few per decade), and recently the number of such years have increased.
posted by b. at 10:02 AM on September 28, 2006

Oh thank you, Judith. One of the most sublime wines I ever tasted was Tokaji Aszu and I can still remember how it tasted, 30-some years later. My husband's Hungarian doctor turned him on to it.
posted by Lynsey at 10:36 AM on September 28, 2006

Oh man. I love Tokaji, but my favorite Hungarian grocery closed years ago. Anyone know if Sam's in Chicago or anyone else here carries it?
posted by jeanmari at 11:22 AM on September 28, 2006

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